The big twist may make for tense viewing on Sunday night, but we reckon it rendered the first live show curiously unrevealing from a punting perspective. The tools we would usually use to analyse the show suddenly felt much less reliable.
Take the running order. In six out of seven series, the first act in the first show has ended up in the singoff. But with no public vote, can anything be read into the fact that Amelia Lily was the first act to perform? It’s hard to say with any confidence.
We surely can, however, read something into the fact that the first thing viewers turning over from Strictly at 8.05pm will have seen was Frankie Cocozza being screamed at by girls, and that the last two acts to perform were Kitty and Janet.
In fact, these three are the only ones who would absolutely astonish us if sent home. As for the rest, we are not at all sure that it’s as cut-and-dried as the markets – with heavily odds-on favourites in three categories, and a two-horse race in the other – would lead us to believe.
Usually in the live shows we need to dissect judges’ comments for what they suggest about whether an act’s supporters may be enthused to pick up the phones, or if they may get a sympathy boost. Instead, we had to try to parse what the mentors said for clues as to their (or producers’) intentions.
But the more we tried to do so during the show, the less we felt on solid ground. We have to bear in mind that (a) this show isn’t stupid, (b) the judges will not make their comments entirely off the cuff, and (c) what would be the point in setting up a suspenseful Sunday twist if you’re going to make it boringly predictable from what was said on Saturday?
After all, it would be all too easy for negatives from Saturday to be spun into positives on Sunday, and vice versa:
- “You did brilliantly last night, but I still have doubts about whether you could cope with different styles of song”;
- “I have to say, you disappointed me last night. But I know you can do better. You deserve a second chance”; maybe even
- “In hindsight, I may have chosen the wrong song for you, and it wouldn’t be fair to send you home because of my mistake.”
Despite the dramatic shifts in odds, we are therefore not convinced that we are much the wiser after tonight’s show than we were before it about what is in store for the Sunday cull. Things are now, of course, looking pretty bleak for Jonjo, James and (alas) 2 Shoes. But it would be a brave punter to pile in at odds-on in the certainty that we’re not seeing a double-bluff in at least one of these categories.
For instance, Gary promises to walk off the show if Louis sends home Sami. Do we really conclude from this that there is no chance at all of this happening? Doesn’t it sound like just the kind of juicy controversy that producers would love to see dominating the Monday morning red-tops?
We’re not saying get on Sami at 20 on Betfair. But we are certainly saying that we wouldn’t like to be laying Sami at 20 on Betfair.
The fact that Gary made a point of slagging off 2 Shoes and questioning Tulisa’s relationship with them likewise gives us some cause for hope. Nu Vibe now look like the obvious alterantives for the chop after a storming performance from The Risk, the one act we’d had a small wager on in the category elimination markets before the show.
In short, we are glad that we kept our stakes very small on that bet on The Risk, and we are not now planning to get further involved in these elimination markets before the Sunday show. It’s just too hard to tell if we’re being set up for any Sunday shockers.
Are you feeling more confident in your ability to interpret what we saw? Do please share your impressions and theories below.